Enhanced infrared satellite image from 11:15am EDT. (NASA)

The National Hurricane Center is giving an area of low pressure in the Bay of Campeche a 40 percent chance of developing into at least a tropical depression over the next five days. Models suggest this disturbance will track east toward the Caribbean and Florida this week.

The area of thunderstorms was originally located south of Mexico, but has since crossed into the southern Gulf of Mexico. In an impressive feat of agreement and consistency, this scenario has actually been forecast by the GFS and ECMWF global models since last Monday.

Environmental conditions will be generally conducive for some development over the next few days as it drifts toward the east. The water temperatures across the Gulf are a VERY toasty 85 degrees, and vertical wind shear should decrease with time. Most models indicate some degree of increasing organization, though there is little agreement on just how much. Once regional models are run on this system, the variety of model guidance products will help with the forecast.


A still frame of animated surface wind streeamlines from Monday morning. (earth.nullschool.net)

By the end of the week, this disturbance will start to interact and merge with a frontal boundary, likely bringing days of heavy rain to south Florida. The seven-day total rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows that three to five inches may not be uncommon in the southern areas of the peninsula.


Seven-day rainfall forecast, valid through next Monday morning. (NOAA)

Looking back at the season so far, the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) in the Atlantic is now up to about 72 percent of an average season, due to Gonzalo’s hefty contribution. Gonzalo accumulated more ACE than Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, and Fay combined! It was a major hurricane for 3.25 days, while all five major hurricanes from 2011-2013 totaled just 3.75 days!


Average daily ACE values (purple shading) with 2014’s values plotted in yellow bars.

If you recall from a previous post, this was the first time the name Gonzalo was used — the name replaced Gustav which was retired in 2008. It’s unknown yet if the name Gonzalo will be retired, but I would suspect not. Although it hit Bermuda directly, the damage was not as extensive as feared, and there were no fatalities. There have been only three names in the past that were retired upon their first use: Michelle 2001, Ike 2008, and Igor 2010.

The next name on this year’s list is Hanna.